New York City Adopts Lactation Accommodation Law

New York City’s new lactation accommodation law is now in effect and imposes new requirements on employers with four or more employees. The new law adds to the obligations that employers already have under New York State’s Labor Law. Under the Labor Law, employers are required to make reasonable efforts to provide a private room or location for employees to express breast milk. The room or location must be well lit, shielded from view and in close proximity to the employee’s work area. The room or location also needs to have a functional lock or, if a lock is not available, a sign advising that the room or location is in use and not available to other employees or the public. Inside the room or location, employers must provide nursing mothers with a chair and small table or other flat surface. New York State law encourages, but does not require, employers to also provide an outlet, clean water supply and access to refrigeration.

New York City’s new law incorporates these requirements but also takes them a step further. First, the lactation room must be a sanitary place, other than a restroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion. Second, the room needs to have an electrical outlet, a chair and a surface upon which employees may place a breast pump and other personal items. Third, the employee must also have nearby access to running water. Fourth, employers need to provide a refrigerator suitable for breast milk storage in reasonable proximity to the employee’s work area. Finally, if the lactation room is also used for other purposes, it must only be used as a lactation room while an employee is using it to express milk, and the employer must give notice to employees that the room gets preference for use as a lactation room. While some of these features are merely suggested under New York State law, New York City now requires them.

The new law also requires employers to adopt written lactation room accommodation policies, which employers must distribute to current employees and new employees upon hiring. The policy must:

  1. State that employees have a right to request a lactation room;
  2. Specify a process by which employees can make an accommodation request;
  3. Require the employer to respond to accommodation requests within a reasonable amount of time not to exceed five business days;
  4. Include a procedure for when two or more individuals need the room;
  5. Provide contact information for any necessary follow up on conflicting needs;
  6. State the employer’s obligation to engage in cooperative dialogue if an employee’s request for a lactation room imposes an undue hardship; and
  7. State that the employer shall provide reasonable break time for employees to express breast milk pursuant to New York State’s Labor Law Section 206-c.

List of Office Holiday Party Do’s and Don’ts

Office Holiday party

The holiday season is fast approaching, and between the rituals of hanging up lights and shopping for gifts, there’s another event to remember: the office holiday party. No matter how much you like your coworkers, the prospect of going to the annual holiday party may strike fear into your heart. Read our ultimate list of do’s and don’ts to ensure you thrive at this year’s event.

Don’t: Decline the Invitation

We get it. Holiday parties have the potential to be awkward affairs (like that time your boss’s boss was heading your way from across the room just as Bob from Accounting launched into another one of his very off-color stories). No matter how tempted you are to ditch the party this year, stop and rethink your actions. The holiday party is an excellent opportunity to network, show your face, and remind everyone that you’re a team player. You owe it to yourself to put in an appearance, even if you only stay for an hour.

Do: Remember that This is a Business Event

No matter how relaxed your office culture, it’s essential to remember that the holiday party is first and foremost a work event. When people are dressed festively, the drinks are flowing, and everyone is having a good time, it may seem like the lines are a bit blurred. Be yourself, but act as though your boss is watching. After all, he or she might be doing just that!

Do: Ask About the Dress Code

Hopefully your party invitation comes with a note about the dress code, but if not, ask around. Offices vary widely in how formal or dressy their holiday events may be, and you don’t want to feel uncomfortably over- or under-dressed. Feel free to be trendy and dress with personality, but err on the side of being slightly more conservative than you would at a friend’s holiday event.

Don’t: Talk Business Incessantly

Of course, the one thing that brings all of you together is your shared workplace. When that’s your point of commonality, it can mean that talk automatically turns to the office. Talking business is okay in small doses, but use the holiday party to get to know your colleagues as people. Talk about their families, pets, leisure activities, travel plans, or other more personable topics. This will help you get to know your colleagues better and will help you make a good impression.

Don’t: Drink Excessively

This should go without saying, yet every office holiday party seems to have that one person careening across the room, sloshing their drink. Yes, there may be an open bar. Yes, you should feel free to imbibe and enjoy yourself. Just know your limit, and switch to water after a couple of drinks. You want to be memorable, but not for being “that person.”

Do: Know Who Is Invited

Some offices encourage employees to bring spouses or significant others to the party. Others prefer to keep it just to people who work at the company. Ask about your company’s policy beforehand. Nobody wants to be the only person who invited their partner to a work event (and believe us, your partner won’t feel comfortable either).

Don’t: Forget to Thank Your Host

Just like at any other party, it’s important to thank your host. This means that you should go up to your boss or the most senior person at the party and thank them warmly for hosting the party. (This has the added bonus of making you stand out to the higher ups). Also remember that support staff workers or members of your office events committee likely put in hard hours of work to make the party happen. A sincere “thank you” can go a long way to making them feel like their effort paid off.

Do: Mingle with New People

It’s tempting to hang out with the people you see on a day-to-day basis, but remember to branch out beyond your team. The holiday party brings people from all departments together, so take the time to get to know your colleagues from other parts of the organization. This can be a fantastic networking opportunity.

Do: Have Fun!

At the end of the day, it’s just a party. The whole reason your company throws a holiday party is to celebrate and thank you for your hard work. It’s a chance for you to relax and enjoy the company of your colleagues, so remember to have fun!

 

Marijan Pavisic MS SPHR

Update from feds: DOL releases opinion letters regarding FMLA, FLSA

DOL

It was a busy week for the DOL — not only did the agency release a new set of FMLA forms for employers, but it wrote four opinion letters addressing several FMLA and FLSA concerns. 

As far as the forms go, the only thing that changed is the expiration date. The updated FMLA forms are exactly the same as the previous set.

The opinion letters will be of more interest to employers, as they address tricky scenarios managers may run into when dealing with the FMLA or FLSA.

Here’s a rundown of the situations the DOL addressed in the letters:

1. Organ donation is covered under the FMLA

In FMLA 2018-2-A, an employer asked whether an employee could use FMLA leave for undergoing organ donation surgery. The DOL says yes. Even if the employee was in good health before the surgery, organ donation still qualifies as a “serious health condition,” and therefore is covered under the FMLA.

A serious health condition is defined as an illness or physical condition that requires inpatient care at a hospital. Since the typical hospital stay after organ donation surgery is four to seven days, this certainly qualifies as a serious health condition.

2. FMLA leave “freezes” no-fault attendance policies.

In FMLA 2018-1-A, an employer detailed its attendance policy. Employees would accrue points for absences, and if those absences added up to a certain number in a year, they’d be terminated. But employees could also shave some points off with consistent good attendance. The employer’s question? If an employee takes FMLA leave, does that mean they cannot accrue or lose any absence points?

The DOL said yes, employers are permitted to “freeze” the absence points of employees on FMLA leave. It’d be an FMLA violation to give employees absence points while on leave, but it’d also be an unfair benefit to remove points while employees were not working.

Note: This freezing policy must apply equally to all types of leave, such as vacation and worker’s comp.

3. Voluntary health and wellness events can be unpaid.

In FLSA 2018-20, an employer asked if employees needed to be paid for attending voluntary biometric screenings during the work day. The DOL says no. Since the event is voluntary, and is primarily for the benefit of the employee, it isn’t compensable. When an employee is attending a wellness event, they are relieved of their job duties.

4. Clarification on retail or service establishment exemption

In FLSA 2018-21, an employer wanted to know if the “retail or service establishment” exemption applied to sales reps at their business. The company sold a unique technology platform to a variety of clients, and not in large quantities. The DOL decided this type of business qualified for the exemption.

The retail or service establishment exemption says employees don’t receive overtime pay if they meet the following requirements:

  • they work at a retail or service establishment
  • their regular rate of pay exceeds one and a half times the minimum wage, and
  • more than half their earnings consist of commissions.

 

Marijan Pavisic MS SPHR

Workplace Diversity: A Key Factor in the Success of Small Businesses

Workforce Diversity By Marijan Pavisic MS SPHR

Over the course of many years, the notion of “Workplace Diversity” was a concept, a fad, one of many organizational ‘flavor of the month’ programs; and to some, another name for Affirmative Action.  Workplace Diversity was viewed as code words referring to race, ethnicity and gender.   There were expectations and even pressure imposed to consider diversity attributes as a major factor in staffing decisions.  The term ‘quota’ comes to mind in these cases. 

 It is refreshing to say that we have come a long way since those days.  Oh yes, major corporations and large organizations tend to demonstrate their commitment through the appointment of executives to lead their diversity programs.  They create large scale programs, including training, hold corporate sponsored events, and contribute financial and manpower support to the programs of special interest groups. 

 The world of small business is totally different when it comes to workplace diversity.  It’s not a program. It’s a reality; a key factor in survival and the challenges to achieving success.  Small businesses, by virtue of size, the demographics of their customer base, the products and services they offer, realize that true diversity is reflected in the characteristics and attributes of the customers they serve.  More importantly, they understand the value of the diversity of their employees and consider their differences an asset to the business and essential in serving its customers. 

 Small businesses have long understood that diversity encompasses race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, personality, education, and much more.  These factors are generally second nature in the staffing process.   The focus is on hiring the most qualified candidate for the job.  By doing so, they manage to create a diverse staff on the basis of the skills they need to provide quality service to their customers. 

 Commitment to diversity in the workplace is important.  It creates an environment where differences are respected and taken seriously, and where there is openness and the sharing of ideas.  The diversity of experience, thoughts, and various perspectives set the stage for a workforce of dedicated employees whose overall mission is to do the best job they can to satisfy their customers.    

By Marijan Pavisic MS SPHR

Social Determinants of Health

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Leaving technology and software/hardware industry for a healthcare 8 years ago really opened my eyes to how healthcare works and the industry overall. There have been great initiatives over the years where healthcare focus is more on prevention and management Vs over-prescribing and over-medication ,as well as understanding what drives the ever increasing cost of the healthcare. This is great initiative showing promise to improve health as well as access to health care to those who were unable to do so int he past.

Goal

Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all.

Overview

Health starts in our homes, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities. We know that taking care of ourselves by eating well and staying active, not smoking, getting the recommended immunizations and screening tests, and seeing a doctor when we are sick all influence our health. Our health is also determined in part by access to social and economic opportunities; the resources and supports available in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities; the quality of our schooling; the safety of our workplaces; the cleanliness of our water, food, and air; and the nature of our social interactions and relationships. The conditions in which we live explain in part why some Americans are healthier than others and why Americans more generally are not as healthy as they could be.

Healthy People 2020 highlights the importance of addressing the social determinants of health by including “Create social and physical environments that promote good health for all” as one of the four overarching goals for the decade. This emphasis is shared by the World Health Organization, whose Commission on Social Determinants of Health in 2008 published the report, Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health. The emphasis is also shared by other U.S. health initiatives such as the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities  and the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy.

The Social Determinants of Health topic area within Healthy People 2020 is designed to identify ways to create social and physical environments that promote good health for all. All Americans deserve an equal opportunity to make the choices that lead to good health. But to ensure that all Americans have that opportunity, advances are needed not only in health care but also in fields such as education, childcare, housing, business, law, media, community planning, transportation, and agriculture. Making these advances involves working together to:

  • Explore how programs, practices, and policies in these areas affect the health of individuals, families, and communities.
  • Establish common goals, complementary roles, and ongoing constructive relationships between the health sector and these areas.
  • Maximize opportunities for collaboration among Federal-, state-, and local-level partners related to social determinants of health.

Understanding Social Determinants of Health

Social determinants of health are conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Conditions (e.g., social, economic, and physical) in these various environments and settings (e.g., school, church, workplace, and neighborhood) have been referred to as “place.” In addition to the more material attributes of “place,” the patterns of social engagement and sense of security and well-being are also affected by where people live. Resources that enhance quality of life can have a significant influence on population health outcomes. Examples of these resources include safe and affordable housing, access to education, public safety, availability of healthy foods, local emergency/health services, and environments free of life-threatening toxins.

Understanding the relationship between how population groups experience “place” and the impact of “place” on health is fundamental to the social determinants of health—including both social and physical determinants.

Examples of social determinants include:

  • Availability of resources to meet daily needs (e.g., safe housing and local food markets)
  • Access to educational, economic, and job opportunities
  • Access to health care services
  • Quality of education and job training
  • Availability of community-based resources in support of community living and opportunities for recreational and leisure-time activities
  • Transportation options
  • Public safety
  • Social support
  • Social norms and attitudes (e.g., discrimination, racism, and distrust of government)
  • Exposure to crime, violence, and social disorder (e.g., presence of trash and lack of cooperation in a community)
  • Socioeconomic conditions (e.g., concentrated poverty and the stressful conditions that accompany it)
  • Residential segregation
  • Language/Literacy
  • Access to mass media and emerging technologies (e.g., cell phones, the Internet, and social media)
  • Culture

Examples of physical determinants include:

  • Natural environment, such as green space (e.g., trees and grass) or weather (e.g., climate change)
  • Built environment, such as buildings, sidewalks, bike lanes, and roads
  • Worksites, schools, and recreational settings
  • Housing and community design
  • Exposure to toxic substances and other physical hazards
  • Physical barriers, especially for people with disabilities
  • Aesthetic elements (e.g., good lighting, trees, and benches)

By working to establish policies that positively influence social and economic conditions and those that support changes in individual behavior, we can improve health for large numbers of people in ways that can be sustained over time. Improving the conditions in which we live, learn, work, and play and the quality of our relationships will create a healthier population, society, and workforce.

Healthy People 2020 Approach to Social Determinants of Health

A “place-based” organizing framework, reflecting five (5) key areas of social determinants of health (SDOH), was developed by Healthy People 2020.

These five key areas (determinants) include:

  • Economic Stability
  • Education
  • Social and Community Context
  • Health and Health Care
  • Neighborhood and Built Environment

a diagram of the five social determinants of health

Each of these five determinant areas reflects a number of key issues that make up the underlying factors in the arena of SDOH.

  • Economic Stability
    • Employment
    • Food Insecurity
    • Housing Instability
    • Poverty
  • Education
    • Early Childhood Education and Development
    • Enrollment in Higher Education
    • High School Graduation
    • Language and Literacy
  • Social and Community Context
    • Civic Participation
    • Discrimination
    • Incarceration
    • Social Cohesion
  • Health and Health Care
    • Access to Health Care
    • Access to Primary Care
    • Health Literacy
  • Neighborhood and Built Environment
    • Access to Foods that Support Healthy Eating Patterns
    • Crime and Violence
    • Environmental Conditions
    • Quality of Housing

This organizing framework has been used to establish an initial set of objectives for the topic area as well as to identify existing Healthy People objectives (i.e., in other topic areas) that are complementary and highly relevant to social determinants. It is anticipated that additional objectives will continue to be developed throughout the decade.

 

Thanks For Reading

Marijan Pavisic MS SPHR

 

Hiring Ex-Offenders Is a Positive Move

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As the labor market tightens in our expanding economy, companies will need workers. And people returning to society from prison need jobs. Keeping potential employers and employees apart is fear, lack of understanding, and about 20,000 statutes and regulations across the country that restrict the hiring of ex-offenders.

Businesses and governments want to change that. Yesterday, the White House hosted a roundtable comprising executives from such companies as Uber, Home Depot, and Johns Hopkins Health System, as well as officials like governors John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Matt Bevin of Kentucky, to discuss the challenges and benefits of hiring the group of people now referred to as formerly incarcerated.

Crime has been in decades-long decline, but roughly 70 million adults in this country have criminal records; and more than 10 million return to their communities from incarceration each year. For this group, more jobs equals lower recidivism equals better lives. Yet fresh starts are curtailed by cultural bias, skills deficits, and myriad regulatory barriers. Among the most common: state rules that deny professional licenses to people with criminal histories.

Roundtable participants said they would like to see such rules eased or eliminated. They also want more collaboration between governments and businesses to create pathways from incarceration to employment (primarily for nonviolent offenders). The idea of creating more job-training programs inside prisons was discussed. So was raising the profile of the Department of Labor’s 52-year-old federal bonding program, which guarantees for six months the honesty of hard-to-place job candidates, including people with criminal records.

The smallest business at the table was also the most experienced. For more than 30 years, Greyston Bakery, based in Yonkers, New York, has practiced “open hiring”–filling available positions with anyone who wants them, no questions asked. The $20 million company has employed thousands of ex-offenders. Around 65 percent of the current workforce has been incarcerated.

During the roundtable, Greyston CEO Mike Brady dispelled some of the myths around hiring ex-offenders, whom he called “fully functional and productive members of our team.” Insurance and workers’ comp costs at Greyston are no higher than at comparable businesses, and turnover is actually lower. “Our history is a demonstration that people coming out of the criminal justice system make for an amazing workforce,” said Brady, in a follow-up interview.

Brady urges businesses to be much more inclusive about hiring. Growing competition for talent, he says, “is a great opportunity to look at your human capital plans and make them more welcoming.” The challenge for small companies differs from large ones, however. “We don’t have a large staff of human resources people and lawyers who would raise obstacles to these programs,” he says. “But those resources would also make it easier for us to address risks.”

Policymakers have been making some strides. For example, more than 150 cities and counties have adopted ban-the-box rules preventing employers from asking about criminal history on job applications. But there’s a distinction between making it harder for companies to not hire the formerly incarcerated and persuading them to actively seek out ex-offenders and help them become valued employees. “The governor of Kentucky said we have to keep biting the apple. There is just so much low-hanging fruit,” says Brady. “Progressive businesses have an opportunity to take the lead in giving people a chance. It has got a positive ROI if you do it right.”

Everyone deserves a 2nd chance.

Happy Nurses Week-National Nurses Week History

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National Nurses Week History

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. These permanent dates enhance planning and position National Nurses Week as an established recognition event. As of 1998, May 8 was designated as National Student Nurses Day, to be celebrated annually. And as of 2003, National School Nurse Day is celebrated on the Wednesday within National Nurses Week (May 6-12) each year.

The nursing profession has been supported and promoted by the American Nurses Association (ANA) since 1896. Each of ANA’s state and territorial nurses associations promotes the nursing profession at the state and regional levels. Each conducts celebrations on these dates to recognize the contributions that nurses and nursing make to the community.

The ANA supports and encourages National Nurses Week recognition programs through the state and district nurses associations, other specialty nursing organizations, educational facilities, and independent health care companies and institutions.

A Brief History of National Nurses Week

1953 Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent a proposal to President Eisenhower to proclaim a “Nurse Day” in October of the following year. The proclamation was never made.

1954 National Nurse Week was observed from October 11 – 16. The year of the observance marked the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea. Representative Frances P. Bolton sponsored the bill for a nurse week. Apparently, a bill for a National Nurse Week was introduced in the 1955 Congress, but no action was taken. Congress discontinued its practice of joint resolutions for national weeks of various kinds.

1972 Again a resolution was presented by the House of Representatives for the President to proclaim “National Registered Nurse Day.” It did not occur.

1974 In January of that year, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) proclaimed that May 12 would be “International Nurse Day.” (May 12 is the birthday of Florence Nightingale.) Since 1965, the ICN has celebrated “International Nurse Day.”

1974 In February of that year, a week was designated by the White House as National Nurse Week, and President Nixon issued a proclamation.

1978 New Jersey Governor Brendon Byrne declared May 6 as “Nurses Day.” Edward Scanlan, of Red Bank, N.J., took up the cause to perpetuate the recognition of nurses in his state. Mr. Scanlan had this date listed in Chase’s Calendar of Annual Events. He promoted the celebration on his own.

1981 ANA, along with various nursing organizations, rallied to support a resolution initiated by nurses in New Mexico, through their Congressman, Manuel Lujan, to have May 6, 1982, established as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”

1982 In February, the ANA Board of Directors formally acknowledged May 6, 1982 as “National Nurses Day.” The action affirmed a joint resolution of the United States Congress designating May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”

1982 President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation on March 25, proclaiming “National Recognition Day for Nurses” to be May 6, 1982.

1990 The ANA Board of Directors expanded the recognition of nurses to a week-long celebration, declaring May 6 – 12, 1991, as National Nurses Week.

1993 The ANA Board of Directors designated May 6 – 12 as permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week in 1994 and in all subsequent years.

1996 The ANA initiated “National RN Recognition Day” on May 6, 1996, to honor the nation’s indispensable registered nurses for their tireless commitment 365 days a year. The ANA encourages its state and territorial nurses associations and other organizations to acknowledge May 6, 1996 as “National RN Recognition Day.”

1997 The ANA Board of Directors, at the request of the National Student Nurses Association, designated May 8 as National Student Nurses Day.

 

NYC Mayor DiBlasio signs package of sexual harassment bills

Sexual Harrasement

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday signed 11 bills that aim to bolster protections against sexual harassment — both for municipal and private employees.

The measures triple the statute of limitations for filing a complaint with city government from one to three years and mandate that city agencies publicly report each complaint received.

Additionally, private firms with 15 or more employees must now provide anti-sexual-harassment training annually, de Blasio said.

“The offhand offensive remark or innuendo, the joke masking as micro-aggression, and the unwanted contact . . . today we are saying that we as a city will no longer let it slide, we will no longer let it stand,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who sponsored one of the bills.

“This is about setting a positive ­example for everyone.”

City Hall recently revealed that municipal workers filed 1,425 complaints of sexual harassment between July 2013 and December 2017, of which 221 were substantiated.

In response to questions from ­reporters, the Mayor’s Office has promised it would reveal how workers were disciplined in the substantiated cases — but it has yet to do so.

De Blasio came under fire last month for questioning whether the reports were legitimate, blaming the 471 at the Department of Education on a “hyper-complaint dynamic” at the agency.

Workplace Diversity: A Key Factor in the Success of Small Businesses

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Over the course of many years, the notion of “Workplace Diversity” was a concept, a fad, one of many organizational ‘flavor of the month’ programs; and to some, another name for Affirmative Action. Workplace Diversity was viewed as code words referring to race, ethnicity and gender. There were expectations and even pressure imposed to consider diversity attributes as a major factor in staffing decisions. The term ‘quota’ comes to mind in these cases.

It is refreshing to say that we have come a long way since those days. Oh yes, major corporations and large organizations tend to demonstrate their commitment through the appointment of executives to lead their diversity programs. They create large scale programs, including training, hold corporate sponsored events, and contribute financial and manpower support to the programs of special interest groups.

The world of small business is totally different when it comes to workplace diversity. It’s not a program. It’s a reality; a key factor in survival and the challenges to achieving success. Small businesses, by virtue of size, the demographics of their customer base, the products and services they offer, realize that true diversity is reflected in the characteristics and attributes of the customers they serve. More importantly, they understand the value of the diversity of their employees and consider their differences an asset to the business and essential in serving its customers.

Small businesses have long understood that diversity encompasses race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, personality, education, and much more. These factors are generally second nature in the staffing process. The focus is on hiring the most qualified candidate for the job. By doing so, they manage to create a diverse staff on the basis of the skills they need to provide quality service to their customers.

Commitment to diversity in the workplace is important. It creates an environment where differences are respected and taken seriously, and where there is openness and the sharing of ideas. The diversity of experience, thoughts, and various perspectives set the stage for a workforce of dedicated employees whose overall mission is to do the best job they can to satisfy their customers.

By Marijan Pavisic MS SPHR